Covid takes another life as infections build up in Pakistan
NIH data shows surge in daily tests, positivity ratio, number of critical patients: China approves first domestic mRNA vaccine for Covid-19: Moderna rebuked over plan to hike vaccine price to 130
March 23, 2023 10:49 PM
All the Covid-19 indicators in Pakistani have reported as uptick as the country recorded another fatality amid build-up of infections during the last 24 hours (Wednesday), showed the statistics released by the National Institute of Health (NIH) on Thursday morning, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.
According to the NIH data, the death toll in the country went up to 30,647 after adding another fatality whereas the number of total infections now shot up to 1,578,767 after adding the fresh 168 cases.
During the last 24 hours (Wednesday), 5,557 tests were conducted throughout Pakistan whereas the positivity ratio surged to 3.02%. The number of patients in critical care stood at 23.
China approves first domestic mRNA vaccine
China has approved its first locally developed messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine against Covid-19, its manufacturer said Wednesday, months after the relaxation of strict Covid-zero regulations sparked a surge in cases.
The vaccine, developed by CSPC Pharmaceutical Group Ltd, has been approved for "emergency use" by Beijing's health regulator, the company said in a statement.
It showed high efficacy in a trial in which it was used as a booster shot for people who have been given other types of vaccines, the company added, without offering further details.
mRNA vaccines are considered among the most effective in reducing severe infections and deaths.
While traditional vaccines use a weakened or inactivated germ to prepare the body for a future attack from the real virus, mRNA deploys snippets of genetic material that carry instructions showing the body's cells how to produce a protein -- in this case, the spike protein on the coronavirus that causes Covid.
The body's immune system then triggers antibodies to fight off that spike protein, making it ready for when the real coronavirus comes knocking.
Beijing has refused to greenlight mRNA-based vaccines from foreign firms Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna for public use.
Its vaccination shortfall was widely believed to have led to more severe infections and deaths after lockdowns and mandatory quarantine rules were suddenly dropped in December.
Other Chinese drugmakers including CanSino have previously said they were developing mRNA-based shots to help the country bridge its immunisation gap.
Moderna rebuked over plan to hike Covid vaccine price to $130
Moderna's chief executive on Wednesday defended the US company's plan to quadruple the price of its lifesaving Covid vaccine to as much as $130 per dose as soon as government stockpiles run out.
Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders lashed out at the price hike, denouncing the "unprecedented level of corporate greed" in the pharmaceutical industry. "And that is certainly true with Moderna," Sanders said.
Moderna has so far charged between about $15 and $26 for doses of its vaccine, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
The US government subsidized $1.7 billion of Moderna's research at the start of the pandemic and then purchased $10 billion worth of vaccine, Sanders said at a Senate hearing where the company's CEO Stephane Bancel was testifying.
Sanders said Moderna was "thanking the taxpayers of the United States" by more than quadrupling the vaccine's price "at a time when it costs less than $3 to manufacture."
Sanders noted several times at the hearing that Moderna conducted buybacks of its own stock and paid its own executives at its Cambridge, Massachusetts, headquarters handsomely.
Bancel defended Moderna, saying the distribution system will change completely when the US government lifts a state of health emergency, perhaps as soon as May.
Up until now, Moderna had only one customer, distributed its vaccine to only a few warehouses and did not have to pay for the cost of expired doses.
By switching to a more traditional marketing approach, "we're going to have 10,000 customers" and have to "manage to deliver to 60,000 pharmacies, doctors' offices and hospitals," he added.
Currently distributed in multidose vials, the vaccine will be sold mostly in single-dose vials or directly in prefilled syringes. And Moderna will have to take care of the unsold doses.
The company expects a "90 percent reduction in demand," Bancel said. "We are losing economies of scale. We must assume the wastage risk and cost that the US government used to assume."
Moderna also pledged to set up a program so that the uninsured or underinsured would not have to pay anything.
When pressed by Sanders about the possibility of the company lowering its price for government-run health insurance programs, Bancel said discussions were underway with all customers.
With inputs from AFP.